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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

By Lexy Benedict

As you get older, we experience a lot of change and realization. While these discoveries can be good, sometimes they are the exact opposite. In the case of friends, it’s tough making the right companions and distinguishing whether or not your current pals are reliable.

Toxic friendships; there’s no exact definition, and it’s a pretty tricky concept. To sum it up generally, It’s basically like being in a toxic relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. In your head, things are good. You love them and you think they love you, and you’re constantly avoiding the red flags because you’re scare to lose them. They don’t treat you right, but you’re convinced that they do, and if they leave you then you’ll be alone.

I’ve been around a lot of people whose exemplify the category of “toxic friend” and I typically back away from such characters. However, I know it can be pretty difficult to cut off people around you. This is especially true with unhealthy friendships because most of them never start off that way. Like any relationship, you hit it off immediately—they get you, you have a good time, and you two get along really well. All of a sudden, things flip and people change or get too comfortable. Sometimes it’s hard to detect the red flags of a toxic friend, but based on my personal experience and through the experiences of those who are close to me, there are some warning signs:

1. You’re the only one that listens

If you’re in  a great friendship with your BFF, chances are there is a mutual reciprocation of  listening and venting. However, a red flag is when you are always there for your friend but they are never there for you. You find that you are constantly giving them advice, listening to their day, and always being one phone call away, while they never ask how you are, or pick up your phone calls when you need them.

2. They hate that you have other friends

Another sign to watch out for is if your friend always gets upset or annoyed when you talk about your other friends, or if you hang out with other people without them. In life, you’re going to meet people from different places and different interests, and you can’t constantly have your BFF attached to your hip. Part of growing up is meeting new people and trying new things, and if your BFF is not supportive of that, it’s a symptom of an unhealthy friendship.

3. They are rude and critical

Everyone knows that true friends gas each other up when it’s appropriate, but it’s also important to give constructional criticism if they feel that you need it. A toxic friend will constantly be rude to you—whether it’s physically or emotionally—and constantly make you feel low and bad. Constructional criticism is meant to be out of love and should be beneficial to you. If they are just making comments to make themselves feel better, they aren’t being a good friend. No friend should lower your self esteem.

Other red flags include not being able to trust them; having them get constantly mad at you for the smallest things; having them misunderstand you, lie to you, talk about you behind your back; discrediting you; and undermining your decisions.

The hardest part about being in a toxic friendship is deciding whether or not it’s time to cut ties, when in most cases, it is. If you find that you are someone who deals with a lot of toxic friendships, or is starting to realize that your current BFF is really not treating you right, you need to put yourself first and distance yourself.

A good way to start firing your toxic friend is to start sticking up for yourself, and talk to them about how they make you feel. How they respond should be a clear indication of whether or not they’re right for you. Be honest with them, be honest with yourself, and throw them an unfollow on social media.

You need to realize that being in a toxic relationship is  mentally destructive and emotionally harmful. The whole concept of a BFF is someone who lifts you up when you’re down and someone to create sweet memories with. A big fear that people face is whether or not they will be left in isolation and the truth is that you will find new friends. In the time being, you would rather have no friends then one that treats you badly.

You get the option in life to choose your friends, and you should choose someone who genuinely makes you feel good and treats you right.

Hi! This is the contributor account for Her Campus at Ryerson.
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Lena Lahalih

Toronto MU

Lena is a fourth year English major at Ryerson University and this year's Editor-in-Chief.   You can follow her on Twitter: @_LENALAHALIH